I received an update from one of my favorite sites this morning and it made me think. Is unconditional love an urban myth? Are we able to accomplish this? What stands in our way of true unconditional love?
The topic of this article is Unreasonable Love. These words are going to be engraved on a plaque to remind me everyday:
To love unconditionally means you don’t need a “reason” to justify loving. In other words…
- When you have a good reason to love, then you love.
- When you have a good reason not to love, you love anyway.
- You love for no reason at all.
I didn’t experience this type of love growing up, everything had a condition and you better be appreciative. If you weren’t perfect, you were excommunicated. I can guarantee any of the doubters that this type of love is cruel. You might even find yourself excommunicated one day, from this type of love.
Why do we put conditions on our love? The message I heard growing up, “It is tough love. It makes you a better person.” Their point was to make sure I learned to survive on my own and didn’t rely on anyone. Another message constantly repeated, “Your family is the only one who will tell you the truth about yourself”. There are some benefits to this type of lesson, but the downside is that you learn to be an island. You don’t rely on anyone and you feel that you don’t need anyone. Pretty lonely! Is that the lesson to learn?
I ask myself “Why do we expect so much from those we love?” Do we try to control them with love as the ultimate reward for compliance? Is love meant to be part of the reward/punishment method? We need to stop and ask ourselves – “What is my motivation for what I am doing?” Maybe there is a better way to gain cooperation, without taking away love.
The time out process can be misused to demonstrate the withdrawal of love for non-compliance. If our child is not behaving by our standards, do you really think putting them in the corner to be ignored is a good way to set an example of good behavior? I have seen the threat of time out (isolation) being used in this manner. Don’t get me wrong, getting frustrated and even angry is normal. Refusing to love or saying things that are focused on withdrawing from them is not all right.
The process of time out, in my opinion, should be used as a way for your child to learn to stop, calm down, and rejoin the activity. Nothing is wrong with hugging them, telling them you love them, and you are sorry they don’t understand. Show them the correct behavior by example and calmly explaining it. What is wrong with time out in mom’s lap? You aren’t accepting the behavior, you are changing it through love. Many times children are so excited they can’t control their emotions. It is our job to show them the tools to regain this control. Not isolate them!
During my journey to find myself, I have started to notice many of my lessons were learned from the animals that I saved. They never rejected me and they showed me unconditional love. Their hearts were always so full of love and devotion, they weren’t afraid to need me. I was key to their survival and in some cases I was their last stop.
Just to name a few of them: Dreamer, the severely abused horse who was headed for a very short life. Horatio, you can see his story on an earlier post. Desdemona, the road weary Pekingnese. Drucilla, the one eyed, deaf, declawed, defenseless, homeless cat (her story is to come.) Smithers, the bear like puppy with Parvo. Slinky, the homeless cat who chose me (of course more to come about her as well). Rosie, the lost, starved, unwanted, saddest hound I have ever seen (yep, I will write her story too). Oh yeah, how could I forget Abe the retired gentleman who’s owners didn’t find a need for him anymore. There have been so many kittens I have nursed to health and found homes (Stay tuned for the great story about 30 kittens I saved at one time). Squirrels, puppies, homeless dogs ….. you name it. I felt their need and I answered.
I mentioned before that I have been lucky to have met some inspiring animals in my life, that is so true. These lost souls taught me to love, no matter what. We all could learn a little from this. Previous owners of these animals used the “Unreasonable Love” methods and almost destroyed their precious lives. These animals could choose to never trust or love anyone ever again for fear of the same outcome. But over and over they choose to love anyway, in hopes that someone will appreciate their love.
My debt to these wonderful creatures is something I can never repay. They have given me the gift of unconditional love and taught me how to give it in return. My efforts with my little girl are based on these lessons. I have found a depth of love that I never knew existed. I love her for who she is, what she is, and what she wants to be. My only goal is to help her obtain her goals. Support, unconditional love, loyalty, patience, forgiving, and understanding are my tools to accomplish this task.
Ask yourself what you can do to show unconditional love to your family? Share some of your stories of unconditional love and how it made you feel? What do you do when you find this love tested, how do you remind yourself to show love in all of your actions?